The beaches on each of the islands also vary but there are plenty to choose from and visitors will find that away from the beaches there is plenty to see and do.The subtropical climate ensures high temperatures in the summer and milder temperatures in the winter months.
The population of the islands is less than a quarter of a million people and the locals are welcoming and friendly. There has been a number of modern developments in the region but this has not changed the way of life on the islands at all.
The island of Sao Miguel is one of the largest in the group and there are dozens of beaches to choose from. Families will enjoy the beach named Praia da Vinha da Areia, located just to the east of Vila Franca do Campo. This beach is popular with tourists as it is close to the marina and there is a waterpark nearby.
The beach at Mosteiros is fairly small and the waters are not ideal for swimming or water sports due to the rocks which lie just off the shore, but it is ideal for sunbathing and beach games. Santa Barbara beach is one of the longest in the islands and is ideal for surfing. Swimmers will like the beach at Ribeira Quente as at low tide there is hot springs under the surface of the water.
Alternatively there is Populo Beach at Sao Roque. This is a soft and sandy beach which is perfect for sunbathers. Lagoa Beach is a good place to meet the locals and is quite a small beach so is ideal for those who want to avoid the touristy areas of the island. Caloura beach can be found in the fishing village of the same name and is secluded with shallow waters, making it ideal for families who want to indulge in some swimming.
This island has sandy white beaches which are a contrast to the darker, volcanic sands of the other islands. Many of the beaches on the islands are perfect for those who want to take part in water sports.
These include Praia Formosa and Sao Lourenco. Visitors to these beaches take part in surfing, water-skiing and sailing. Those who want to have a go at scuba diving can try the beaches at Prainha and Xareus Cave. These are also great locations for those who want to try a bit of fishing – one of the main industries of the islands.
Terceira is one of the most densely populated of any of the islands. There is a variety of beaches located around the island and many of these are suitable for water sports. The island of Flores has a number of pebble beaches but these are still very popular with swimmers. The island of Pico has more sandy beaches and these are considered to offer some of the best swimming in the whole of the Azores. Faial Island is home to Porto Pim, a beach on small bay which offers calm waters and the beach is considered to be ideal for those who enjoy coastal walks.
Things to Do
Those who prefer an active holiday may find that there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling around the islands. Pico Mountain is a nature reserve and the highest mountain in Portugal and has many trails for walkers and cyclists. The Gorreana Tea Plantation is an alternative place to visit and is located on the island of Sao Miguel and is perfect for those who want to learn more about something we all take for granted. The Museo de Vino is a wine museum located on Terceira and is something a little different away from the beach.
There are a number of locations where a tourist is able to book a place on a whale watching tour. Other wildlife can be spotted while out at sea and the opportunity should not be passed up. Local nature can be enjoyed at Terra Nostra gardens, which cover 12 hectares and are the ideal day out for all the family.
The islands are home to a number of museums, several of these are based on artefacts from the whaling industry, although there are several which are perfect for those who want to find out more about the varied history of the islands and the way of life.